ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended the deadline for Florida businesses to renew their liquor license to Dec. 31.
Aaron Dudek co-owns three bars in the Orlando area.
“Every year you need to renew that license with the state,” he explained. “They don’t really tell you why you need to renew it and it’s around $1,800. It’s not a big deal when you’re open, it’s just another expense.”
DeSantis’ executive order notes bar owners have experienced difficult conditions resulting from the temporary closure of their businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Bar owners are wondering when they are going to be able to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The current state order does not allow bars to be open.
“Their businesses are probably in some of the most difficult circumstances, they’re under a state order,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said a few weeks ago.
Dyer said plans would need to be put in place before bars can reopen.
“I would support the reopening of bars when we can do it safely and they can operate,” he said.
Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said the issue with bars is they are designed to be small.
“You want that feeling of being close to people and being in a party environment,” Pino said.
Pino noted before the pandemic everyone was used to going to crowded bars.
“If they operate at a lower rate of percentage it will not be economically feasible, because you need that volume to pay the staff and pay your rent. So they are in a pickle, that is the reality,” Pino said.
Pino kicked around some ideas that could lead to bars reopening, he mentioned limited capacity and allowing bars to have longer hours so they’re not as crowded.
Orange County’s health officer presented another obstacle: alcohol is known to impair judgment.
“Wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands -- those are judgment calls,” he said.
Pino hopes bars, county leaders and health officials can come up with ideas to help bars come up with a reopening plan.